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TJs trail early, but roar back

The Timberjacks came up on the short end of the home run derby.

Spokane belted three to Southern Oregon's one.

They drew the short straw in the hit-by-pitch competition, too, taking one for the team four times.

But the clutch hitting award belonged to the Timberjacks Sunday night at Miles Field as Southern Oregon battled back for a 12-8 Northwest League victory before 1,123 fans.

The Timberjacks (25-18) increased their Southern Division lead to 5 games over second-place Portland and squared their season series against the Northern Division-leading Indians (26-17) at four games apiece.

The clubs play two more games at Miles Field today and Tuesday in what they hope is a preview of the league championship series.

Spokane had the upper hand early, raking Southern Oregon starter Keith Surkont (2-3) for 11 hits and six runs in six innings. But the right-hander held on until the cavalry came charging to the rescue.

Southern Oregon trimmed a 6-1 deficit to 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kirk Asche, who entered the game leading the NWL with 23 extra-base hits, delivered a three-run double to the right-center field gap as he upped his league-leading RBI total to 45.

The Timberjacks pounced on reliever Jason Gilfillan (3-1) in the sixth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs to take an 11-6 advantage.

Carlos Rosario, who stole his NWL-leading 23rd base, lashed a two-run triple to right-center to tie it, 6-6. Joe Laird gave the T'jacks the lead with a sacrifice fly to score Rosario. Then Matt Howe capped the uprising with a three-run home run to left field, his fourth in two weeks and eighth of the season, off Raul Garcia.

Spokane struck back with two solo homers by Mark Ellis and Casey Dunn in the seventh but failed to draw closer.